The Australian newspaper has published a leaked transcript of Bangalore doctor Mohammed Haneef‘s interview with the Australian police following his arrest in the wake of the failed attack on Glasgow Airport.
By HEDLEY THOMAS
Terror suspect Mohammed Haneef describes jihad as a life struggle rather than a violent revolution and reveals he feared being “framed”.
In his first taped interview with Australian Federal Police officers, a 142-page transcript of which was leaked to The Australian yesterday, Dr Haneef, 27, who is at the centre of a growing international furore, insists he is a Muslim with moderate views.
He told AFP agent Adam Simms that he had never had firearms, explosives or terrorist training, and that he knew nothing about the failed bombings, linked to his second cousins, in London and Glasgow. He also denied he had ever been asked “to take part in jihad or anything that could be considered similar to jihad“.
“Every drop of blood is human. And I feel for every human being,” he said.
But he admitted obtaining a loan of 200 to 300 pounds (approximately Rs 20,000-30,000) in June 2004 from Glasgow bombing suspect Kafeel Ahmed, for a medical qualifying exam. “When I asked him (when to) pay him back, he said, ‘Just give it to any of the poor in India’.”
Dr Haneef also transferred 900 pounds that he said was intended for his family from England to India using Kafeel in October 2005.
The Haneef affair yesterday threatened to damage relations between Australia and India, with high commissioner John McCarthy called into the Indian Foreign Ministry in New Delhi. Australian authorities also cancelled the visa of Dr Haneef’s wife, Firdous Arshiya.
Australian intelligence authorities were also investigating a report in the Indian newspaper, The Asian Age, that alleged Dr Haneef was a senior organiser for the now-banned group the Students Islamic Movement of India, when he was at medical school.
In the lengthy interview after his arrest at Brisbane International Airport on July 2 for allegedly supporting a terrorist organisation, Dr Haneef stated:
“I’m clear from any of the things. I haven’t done any of the crimes. And I don’t want to spoil my name and my profession. And I’ve been a professionalist (sic) until now and I haven’t been involved in any kind of extra activities.”
Lawyers for Dr Haneef, whose visa to work in Australia was cancelled by Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews on Monday after a Brisbane magistrate had granted him bail over his alleged terror connection, will today launch a Federal Court action in a bid to secure his freedom.
Andrews made his decision that Dr Haneef had failed a “character test” after receiving secret information from the AFP, which had held him in custody without charge for a fortnight.
The AFP suspects Dr Haneef may have known about the terrorist attacks in Britain before they were hatched.
In his first interview with the AFP, Dr Haneef shed light on his sudden attempted departure from Australia to India with a one-way ticket after a conversation on July 2 with his father-in-law, in which Dr Haneef mentioned that his second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, had been arrested over the foiled terrorism attacks in London and Glasgow. A year earlier, Dr Haneef had given his mobile phone SIM card, which had unused credit, to Sabeel Ahmed.
“I had mentioned to him about this incident in the UK—that Dr Sabeel has been arrested. So (my father-in-law) he said to me, ‘Why are you worried about that?’ So I just said, ‘Keep calm, if we have not done anything, then just nothing to worry’.”
Dr Haneef said that after he was told by his father-in-law to call British police “and let them know whatever’s going on”, Dr Haneef told the AFP that he repeatedly tried to telephone one of the police officers, Tony Webster, in Britain to explain the SIM card issue, but that the calls went unanswered.
Dr Haneef said his father-in-law booked and paid for the one-way ticket “because I didn’t have money”. “I asked him to book a ticket for me now and ah, I (was) going to get a ticket … with my money when I come back.”
While he responded to questions about his religion, Dr Haneef declined to talk about his political views, including the war in Iraq.
The record of a subsequent interview has not been obtained by The Australian, but in the July 2-3 questioning session Dr Haneef was asked about his family ties, his knowledge of terrorism, his reasons for trying to leave Brisbane abruptly to travel to his family in India, the transfers of modest sums of money between Australia, India and Britain, his communications with terror suspects, and his SIM card.
He denied he had undertaken”any religious training”, adding:”When you are growing up you get up with the, ah, things – how to read a Koran, how to perform a salaam. I haven’t had any formal teaching of that.
“Jihad, to my understanding, it’s a struggle. Just life itself is a struggle. The proper meaning of jihad is just struggle. I would say that’s a basic sort of understanding I have. Yes it is often misquoted and misinterpreted in different context.”
Dr Haneef, who agreed to conduct the interview without a lawyer, said he was not up to date with political news from abroad.
Simms: “I guess what I’m getting at is like what are your thoughts in relation to Iraq. The situation in Iraq. The situation in Afghanistan. Do you have any views on that?
Haneef:”Well I don’t like to comment on the thing about (that).” When asked about his prayer routine, he said he sometimes attended Liverpool main mosque in Britain and a chapel in the hospital where he worked. Asked about his sudden decision to leave the Gold Coast Hospital on July 2 where he has been working as a registrar since last September, Dr Haneef said his father-in-law organised a one-way ticket for him to India to visit his newborn daughter, who was delivered after an emergency caesarean section on June 26 in Bangalore.
He said he told an administrator at the hospital that,”my wife has given birth to a child last week and my child is still admitted in the hospital and I have to go to see them”.
Federal police suspect that Dr Haneef was escaping Australia because he was connected to the foiled terrorist attacks in Britain that had been hatched days earlier by a second cousin, Kafeel Ahmed, and another man, Bilal Abdulla. Kafeel Ahmed suffered burns to 90 per cent of his body from the bungled attack on Glasgow airport.
Dr Haneef told police how after failing his medical exams and feeling”a bit low” he visited Kafeel Ahmed when he was studying at Cambridge in 2004, and stayed for a day in his room.
“I just went around the university and he showed me the campus.”
He said his mobile telephone contract went from August 2005 until August 2006, but as he was leaving Britain in July”there was still one month left on the thing so (Sabeel Ahmed, the brother of Kafeel) asked me to leave that, because … there were some free minutes left.”
Simms:”What information do you have in relation to the attempted bombing in London?”
Simms: “On June 29?”
Haneef: “I, I really don’t know anything about that.”
Simms: “You know the attempted bombing we just had, in London. You must know.”
Haneef: “Ah, I gather about Glasgow thing and there was some plot in London. But I don’t know, I have not any relation with that at all.”
Simms: “Do you know anything about that at all.”
Simms: “In your time around the people you know in the UK, did you at any time see any explosive devices, any components, electrical components?”
Haneef: “No I haven’t.”
Simms: “Did you ever have any prior knowledge or suspicion of the failed attack in London on June 29, or the bomb attack at Glasgow airport on June 30?”
Courtesy: The Australian
Download the full transcript here